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Community Objection Grounds for .nyc submitted to ICANN's ALAC


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Grounds for objection to the ICANN application for the .nyc top-level domain, focusing on the absence of civic engagement in the preparation of the application, and its lack of integration into a vision of .nyc as a catalyst for a commitment to vision and commitment for New York City as a state-of-the-art digital city.

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Community Objection Grounds for .nyc submitted to ICANN's ALAC

  1. 1. Community Objection Grounds for __.nyc__ Submitted by: Information Habitat: Where Information Lives No public consultation in preparing .nyc application The fundamental source of the flaws in the .nyc application(1) is the process by which the application was prepared, namely the failure to provide any meaningful opportunity for public consultation. This is despite New York City’s proclaimed commitment to the use of information and communications technology in support of enhanced civic engagement and open government as expressed in its “Road Map for the Digital City: Achieving New York City’s Digital Future”(2), “New York City’s Digital Roadmap: Progress & Innovation”(3) and elsewhere. Inconsistency with principles of civic engagement and open government A sound and well-developed application for .nyc could have provided New York City with an exceptional opportunity to prepare an application that would be worthy of its status as a worldclass city. Home to a dynamic community of digital expertise and experience - including designers, policy advocates, publishers and users - and a host of citizen advocacy organizations and acivist, a broad-based public consultation would surely have given rise to a much more powerful expression of the mission and goals of a .nyc gTLD. With suitable publicity and readily accessible opportunities for participation, issues such as linking the development of .nyc to a commitment to address the digital divide, to provide for universal broadband access, and to strengthening digital literacy - and more broadly for .nyc to be developed as a catalyst for a greatly enhanced Digital NYC. Unpublicized late notice for the one and only “Public Hearing” The only public hearing on the .nyc application was held with just three days notice - instead of the normal seven - and the only “publicity” for the hearing was a small notice buried at the bottom of page 676 of the March 20 NYC City Record as a ''Late Notice'' on "Agency Public Hearings on Contract Awards'. Furthermore, the hearings were held only three weeks before ICANN’s April 12 application deadline for new gTLDs, effectively leaving no time for New York City to incorporate any concerns expressed at the hearing.(4) New York City’s Chief Digital Officer has defended the City’s public hearing process in a recent response to an objection by Tom Lowenhaupt on behalf of Connecting nyc, and while her defense may be narrowly valid as far as the letter of the law is concerned, New York City made no meaningful or substantial effort to embody the spirit of New York City’s proclaimed commitment to citizen engagement and open government. The simple and clear fact is that New York City made no real effort either to publicize the application initiative, nor to provide for and invite broad-based participation from the highly diverse communities of New Yorkers. State of the Digital City: Government 2.0 and its Impact on Policymaking Ironically, two days before the only public hearing on the application for the .nyc gTLD, the annual State of the City event hosted by the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service with the theme “State of the Digital City: Government 2.0 and its Impact on Policymaking”(5), hailed New York City’s growing status as a leading Digital City and the opportunities for enhanced civic engagement, open government and universal access. .nyc & the Digital Road Map for New York City The 2012 Digital Roadmap, as part of its “Next Steps for Engagement” promises to “Launch ongoing listening sessions across the five boroughs to encourage input”(6), however, more than a year has passed since the “@nycgov Meetup: Shape New York City Government's Digital Future”(7) was set up, and not a single Meetup or listening session has been scheduled. The City’s failure to follow through on its promise of public participation raises serious concerns as the extent of its commitment to citizen engagement and open government, as well as the extent
  2. 2. that the Digital Roadmap - in addition to the .nyc application - addresses the digital & information needs of New Yorkers. Meanwhile, the .nyc application gets scant attention in the 2012 Digital Roadmap, and is the last-but-one item - on page 51 of a 52-page report - and listed under “Next Steps for Industry” focusing on promotion, advertising and revenue opportunities for the City, rather than as a key unifying overall theme for a state-of-the-art Digital New York City. “With the historic launch of the .nyc TLD, the City will embrace its digital future in a powerful way and bring an unprecedented level of geographic authority to the digital sphere. In addition, the City will generate revenue, help residents locate government services, encourage local businesses to thrive, market and promote tourism, and spread the dynamic image of New York City around the world.” However, consideration of .nyc as a promotional tool for the City, a source of revenue for New York City reflects a very short-sighted perspective on the potential long-term benefits of the gTLD and of a Digital New York City, and fails to recognize the far more significant economic and social benefits that would accrue to the City and to New Yorkers from addressing the issue from holistic perspective that recognize the vital importance of universal access and the development of broad-based digital literacy and digital capabilities necessary to strengthen New York’s competitiveness as a leading global city. .nyc Community Advisory Board It was encouraging to read in the 2012 Digital Roadmap that: “Crucially, the City of New York will establish a community advisory board and convene public listening sessions to encourage meaningful input into the development of the .nyc strategy.” However, it was less than two weeks ago that any steps were taken to begin the process of setting up a .nyc Advisory Board - seeming at least in part in response to the first objection from Connecting nyc. Meanwhile, the draft terms of reference for the Advisory Board are very limited, and significantly, make no reference to a role or responsibilities of the Board in actively soliciting public input and in convening open, well-publicized and readily-accessible public listening sessions in all the City’s five boroughs; nor have any budgetary provisions been offered for appropriate publicity or to cover the costs of such listening sessions inclusing the requisite administrative expenses. Smarter, Greener, Climate-Friendly NYC An important omission in the ,nyc application - and in the Digital Roadmap - is a failure to recognize the ways in which smarter, more digitally-connected and digitally-literate and digitallycapable residents, businesses and government agencies can play a key role in reducing New York City’s ecological footprint and its notorious traffic congestion - by providing for the increasing substitution of material goods with digital goods, by significantly reducing needs for the time, cost and carbon footprint of physical travel, e.g. by the use of high-speed broadband connections for meetings, and through the availability of convenient and affordable co-working space. “PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York” - and “PlaNYC 2011 Update: A Greener, Greater New York”(8) - has been developed as a key component of New York City’s strategy for long-term sustainability including the City’s preparedness for climate change. By contrast wih the .nyc application, the preparations for the 2011update of PlaNYC were supported by well-designed and well-publicized online consultation & participation opportunities; supplemented by active
  3. 3. online fora, the PlaNYC consultation process should have served as a model for public input into the .nyc application - as well as for public consultation by the .nyc Advisory Board. Meanwhile it would be important for the next update of PlaNYC to incorporate and address the vital potential role of the .nyc gTLD and an enhanced Digital Roadap in reducing the ecological footprint of New York City .nyc and Long-term Planning The importance of substantial integration of .nyc and the Digital Roadmap with PlaNYC is also based on a recognition that preparations for a state-of-the-art Digital New York City is clearly a long-term planning issue, and as such, needs to be fully integrated with planning for sustainability. Digital Technology as Key Driver of Economic Development The .nyc application and the Digital Roadmap also fail to recognize the profound significance of information and communications technologies as a key driver in economic development that extends far beyond the growth of the City’s digital industry. If New York City is to realize a vision growth to include the adoption of digital technology throughout almost economic, social and cultural sectors. Key Detriments of the .nyc application If the .nyc application is approved in its present form, New Yorkers in all walks of life will suffer the major loss of what could otherwise have been a framework for a world-class top-level domain had it been prepared with the benefits of significant public participation. New Yorkers deserve better. _______________________________________________ Submitted on behalf of Information Habitat: Where Information Lives - , NGO in Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic & Social Council, and a pioneer in supporting and promoting the use of information and communication technologies in support of broad-based participation in major UN Conferences beginning with preparations for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Information Habitat has also played a lead role in focusing on the role of information and communication technologies as a critical foundation for a sustainable common future.(9) Robert Pollard, Founder & Information Ecologist,, Notes: 1 . See “.nyc gTL D A pplica tion H ighlights ” - re form atte d, easy-to-read non-tec hnical highlights of the .nyc app lication: 2 . “Road Map for the Digital City: Achieving Ne w Yo rk City’s Digital Future” - bookm arked version 3 . “New York City’s Digital Roadmap: Progress & Innovation” - bookm arked version 4 . Se e: “March 23, 2011: Last-minute hidden "Public Hearing" on .nyc top-level domain #dotnyc #opengov #AskMike #nyc 5 . “State of the Digital City: Governm ent 2.0 and its Impa ct on Policymak ing”, sponsored by Ne w York University’s W agner's Urban Planning Student Association and NYU Law School's Law and Government Society - Video at
  4. 4. 6 . Fro m : “New York City’s Digital Roadmap: Progress & Innovation”, page 47 “To ensure the success of public-private partnerships and constantly evaluate engagement efforts, NYC Dig ital, in partnership with th e D epartm ent of Inform atio n T echnology & Telecomm unications, will conduct listening sessions with local communities and partners with the aim of collecting feedback concerning the main areas of focus of the digital roadmap: access, educatio n, open governm ent, en gagem ent and industry. Through these sessions, th e C ity will sha re up date s with the public and e nco urag e fee dba ck and sug ges tions to m ake im prov em ents that serve New Yorkers To facilitate these listening sessions, the City, in partnership with the New York Tech Meetup, launched an NYC Gov Meetup, leveraging the homegrown startup’s format used widely within the tech comm unity. New Yorkers interested in participating in the first listening session in fall 2012 are encouraged to sign up for the NYC Gov Meetup: 7 . @nycgo v Mee tup: Shape N ew York City Governm ent's Digital Future - m /nycgov/ 8 . “PlaNYC: A G reener, Grea ter New York ” - - “PlaNYC 20 11 Up date: A Gree ner, Grea ter New York ”- - bookmarked versions 9 . See “Information & Comm unications Technologies: Critical Foundation for a Sustainable Comm on Future” - Zero Draft contribution for the Rio+20 / United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development sub m itted by Info rm ation H abitat: W here Inform ation L ives. hab cf.htm & (bookm arked p df)